Oleg Kireyev Crosses Boundaries and Raises the Suspense at Symphony Space
Thursday night at Symphony Space, Oleg Kireyev and his quintet made their North American debut. playing movies for the ears. Kireyev is a connoisseur of cinematic latin-tinged 70s soundtrack jazz, much in the same vein as Ennio Morricone (the Taxi Driver soundtrack seemed to be a blueprint for much of this set). Perhaps taking a page out of the Kenny Garrett book, saxophonist Kireyev began the show on piano, establishing a catchy, trad late 50s Miles vernacular with his spacious block chords. Then he handed over piano duties to Yuri Pogiba, switching to tenor for a lively, intertwining conversation with trumpeter Rustem Galiullin.
The rest of the concert saw the group building picturesque scenarios, caffeinated urban chase scenes punctuated by the occasional moody electroacoustic tableau, icy longtone sheets of synth enhancing the tense, airconditioned chill. You might not expect a guy playing Paul McCartney’s choice of bass, a vintage Hofner model, to make his most memorable solo an evocation of a soaring horn line, but that’s what Oleg Yangurov did. And you might not expect a Russian to keep the clave going, whether straightforwardly or artfully concealed on the hi-hat amidst a thicket of polyrhythms, but drummer Rustem Kalimov was on it all the way through. Kireyev varied his tone from bell-clear to gruff and throaty, depending on what the music called for. And for all the relentless suspense and gravitas and occasional windswept steppe ambience, Kireyev has a sense of humor. He got the crowd chuckling when he dared them to vocalize along with him – by throat-singing. “It’s easy,” he grinned, something the crowd did not confirm even though they were having a great time trying to mimic his keening overtones.
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